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New Brunswick 4-H club ‘had a blast’ here

 The second half of a 4-H exchange between 10 local members and those in New Brunswick was completed last week after the Maritime members wrapped up their week-long visit to Rainy River District.    The local members had been paired with their New Brunswick counterparts earlier this summer after they were accepted to take part in the Canadian exchange—a program organized through Canadian 4-H in conjunction with Connections Canada.    The local participants—Theo and Cody Heyens, Joe and Cody Bodnar, David Donaldson, Andrew Morrish, Jolene Stahn, Tegan Miller, Mitchell Haw, and Tyler Nielson—headed to Central Hampstead on July 1 for a week.    Then their counterparts visited here beginning July 29.    “We had a blast,” enthused New Brunswick participant Stephanie Johnson. “They went over the top for all of us.”    The purpose of the exchange is for the youths to visit a different part of Canada and learn about the similarities and differences of the areas—and that’s exactly what they did.    “One difference I noticed right away was that there are more lakes,” noted John McKay, another New Brunswick 4-H member. “But in terms of agriculture, it’s pretty similar.”    New Brunswick chaperone Ann Eastwood was impressed by the Canadian Shield and the natural history of Rainy River District.    “It’s amazing to see the landscape—it’s so beautiful,” she remarked. “And the natural history made you feel like you were really out in the wilderness, back in time.”    “The transition from the flat land to the rocky was really neat to see,” Johnson added.    Eastwood even was able to spot a wolf, which she had never seen before, and the group also was excited to see foxtails and pelicans.    “And fish frys are new to us, too,” she added, noting the activities the local 4-H club had planned were both interesting and diverse.    The groups spent two days at Caliper Lake camping, going canoeing and kayaking, playing games, viewing Nestor Falls, and enjoying the great outdoors.    They also went on a three-hour boat tour around Rainy Lake and to the Mermaid, went to the Fort Frances and Chapple museums, visited Willow-Mor Farm for a tour and hay ride, and checked out the Heyens’ dairy farm.    There also was one free day the delegates could spend with their host families, with many going fishing and tubing on the lake.    “Everyone had a great time and we got to know the area well,” Eastwood enthused.    “I learned that it is very different across Canada, but there are also lots of similarities,” McKay noted, saying he had been on an exchange to both Ottawa and Manitoba in the past, but quite enjoyed his trip here.    “We’ve come from a wonderful community and we were able to visit another wonderful community,” Eastwood added. “I hope they will come back to visit us so we can return their hospitality.    “We’re thankful for everything they’ve done.”    All the participants made solid friendships with their counterparts and hope to stay in contact. In fact, both Johnson and McKay said they would like to visit Rainy River District again.    “It was a really good experience for the kids,” noted local 4-H club parent Cindy Nielson. “Even some the things we did here in the district were new to us.”    Several of the local parents were very thankful to Bill Clink and Hope Smart of the Chapple Museum, who offered an excellent tour on short notice after the group’s trip to the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre was cancelled for unforeseen reasons.    The organizers were happy everything went smoothly and that the weather co-operated.    “It took a lot of planning and parental involvement, but it was all worth it,” Nielson noted, adding there’s already talk about the local 4-H club applying to participate in another exchange.    “The kids had a great time, and others have seen that and have been asking about going on one, too,” she said. “Unfortunately this time around we could only take 10, so we’ll have to see about another one if not next [year], but the year after.”

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